Friday, January 11, 2013

Gunmetal Blue Review

The Canadian Medical Association Journal did a review of Shane Neilson's memoir, Gunmetal Blue. Kind of fun to have his book reviewed in a medical journal. I like that the review mentions the cover design! The entire review can be found in the November issue (184. 16) 2012. #expanding the canlit poetry audience

“... initially I overlooked the graphic design on the cover of Shane Neilson’s book, Gunmetal Blue: A Memoir. Then I read his opening essay, “Uncle Miltie and the locked ward.” It’s a harrowing account of his hospitalization for a suicidal psychosis. The essay opened my eyes to the sepia-coloured specimens of brain and heart positioned like targets in the twin barrels of a shotgun — a visual compliment to poet Milton Acorn’s The Brain’s The Target. The cover’s blue-black wash becomes the fathomless perimeter of a disordered mind in a hospital room: “The hospital was gunmetal blue: madhouses are best stark.”

“I am a doctor, and I write poems,” states Neilson on the final page of the book. That sounds more straightforward than it is. The practical demands of a life in medicine and the aesthetic realities of being a writer are not easily reconciled. Add to the work of poet and doctor the preoccupations of father, son, and husband, and a man with a history of life-threatening mental illness, and it gets even more complicated. He explains in the essay, “The Practice of Poetry”: “I try to make sense of the world, of myself and others, and the major tool I use is poetry.” ... He describes the traps and disappointments — and rewards — inherent in writing. Along the way he draws inspiration and bolsters his observations and arguments with references to the work of many other writers.”

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My interests are varied

A picture of the back seat of my car: ballroom dance shoes and a hacksaw.